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Written by: Austin Lux
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Drug crimes are one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in Colorado. In fact, according to the most recent government data, there were nearly 15,000 narcotics violations in 2020.

This involves the unlawful cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, purchase, use, possession, transportation, or importation of any controlled drug or narcotic substance.

Drug crimes can be very serious, with convictions often calling for lengthy prison terms.

However, the seriousness of a drug crime depends on several factors, including:

  • The schedule of the drug;
  • The amount of drugs in your possession;
  • Whether you possess the drug for personal use or for sale;
  • Your prior record; and
  • Whether you sold to a minor or enlisted the help of a minor.

Some drug crimes are “wobblers,” meaning they can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor upon the completion of a community-based sentence.

Background on Drug Schedules

The government classifies all narcotics into five drug schedules. Generally, the government considers two things when scheduling a drug:

  • The drug’s acceptable medical uses, if any; and
  • The drug’s potential for abuse or dependency.

For example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and few or no medical benefits.

On the other end of the spectrum, Schedule V drugs carry the lowest potential for abuse and offer the most acceptable medical benefits.

Under the system of government in the United States, every state creates its own list of drug schedules. In addition, the federal government has a list of drug schedules used to prosecute federal drug crimes.  

Colorado Drug Schedules

The seriousness of any Colorado drug crime depends primarily on the type of drug in question and the drug’s schedule. Below is a list of the Colorado drug schedules, and a few examples of the types of drugs in each schedule.

Schedule I (CO Rev. Stat. § 18-18-203)

Schedule I drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. The following are Schedule I drugs in Colorado:

  • Ecstasy,
  • Heroin,
  • GHB, and
  • Bath salts.

In most cases, the mere possession of a Schedule I drug is a level four drug felony, carrying a punishment of up to one year in jail.

Schedule II (CO Rev. Stat. § 18-18-204)

Similar to Schedule I drugs, Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse.

However, the difference is that Schedule II drugs have at least some acceptable medical uses. Schedule II drugs include:

  • Morphine,
  • Opium,
  • Codeine,
  • Vicodin,
  • Mescaline,
  • Cocaine,
  • Psilocybin,
  • Methamphetamine, and
  • Peyote.

In most cases, the mere possession of a Schedule II drug is a level four drug felony, carrying a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Schedule III (CO Rev. Stat. § 18-18-205)

The drugs in Schedule III have a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedules I and II. If abused, these narcotics lead to less serious physical or psychological symptoms.

Schedule III drugs also have valid medical uses. Those drugs in Schedule III include the following:

  • Ketamine,
  • Anabolic steroids,
  • Some barbiturates,
  • Medications (such as cough syrup) containing small amounts of codeine or morphine.

Possession of a Schedule III drug is a level one drug misdemeanor, carrying a minimum sentence of six months in jail.

However, a fourth conviction for a level one drug misdemeanor becomes a level four drug felony.

Schedule IV and V (CO Rev. Stat. §§ 18-18-206 and 18-18-207)

Schedule IV and V drugs present the lowest risk of dependency among all scheduled narcotics. They also have the most accepted medical uses. Schedule IV and V drugs include:

  • Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepines;
  • Ambien and other prescription sleep medication; and
  • Medication containing very little codeine or morphine.

Possession of most Schedule IV or V drugs is graded as a level one drug misdemeanor that carries a minimum sentence of six months in jail.

Are You Facing a Colorado Drug Charge?

If police recently arrested you for a drug crime, contact the dedicated Colorado drug defense lawyer at the Lux Law Firm.

Founding attorney, Austin Lux, is a former prosecutor who spent years prosecuting drug cases on behalf of the government. This provides him with unique insight into how the government views and prosecutes these cases.

Possessing this unique insight gives Attorney Lux a distinct advantage when it comes to strategizing the best defense for your case.

At the Lux Law Firm, we recognize that any criminal charge carries the potential to drastically impact your life. Therefore, we promise to take your case as seriously as you do.

To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give the Lux Law Firm a call at 719-249-0617 today. You can also reach us through our online form.

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